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The 50 Best Sci-Fi Movies

43. Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)

Director: Nicholas Meyer
Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols, Kirstie Alley, Ricardo Montalban

Eleven movies deep, the legendary Star Trek franchise has found more triumph on the small screen than in multiplexes. Ardent fans of Gene Roddenberry's seemingly neverending intergalactic soap opera are quick to bash the many inferior film sequels, though they're loudest complaints are saved for the first entry, 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

In die-hards' eyes, The Motion Picture tossed all of the show's best elements into Hollywood's dumpster in favor of a dumbed-down and oddly distanced cash cow. As a result, Trekkies weren't waiting with baited breath for the sequel, The Wrath Of Khan. Much to their surprise, however, this 1982 franchise saver reinstated Trek's effectiveness.

With grander action sequences, an iconic villain in Ricardo Montalban's "Khan," and (SPOILER ALERT) the shocking and elegantly handled "death" of Leonard Nimoy's Spock, The Wrath Of Khan does everything right. So much so, in fact, that no subsequent Star Trek movie has been able to usurp it within the heads of obsessive fans, not even J.J. Abrams' laudable 2009 reboot.

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